Sunday, July 9, 2017

Review #422: Spider-man 3(DS)

 Fresh new duds, stinky new control scheme.
 They just couldn't get it right on the DS with the arachnid hero, now could they? Spider-man 3 is another complete overhaul of what came before it, trading the comfort, functionality and precision of buttons for a misguided, cumbersome and clunky touch-based interface. It's not the only game that tried to implement this functionality, but it's easily one of the games that got it the worst.

 The game follows the plot from the movie of the same name, somewhat, while adding snippets from the micro-plots added in the console game. It's badly told, and to add insult to injury, they went with these ugly, ugly cut-scenes styled after newspaper pictures. Minimalist and poor animation coupled with limited color palettes make for some hideous and misguided story-telling.
 The game is a 2-D sidescroller action game structured in missions. Before each mission you are free to explore a somewhat open-ended New York, participate in races or attempt to lower the 'crime rate' by doing random 'side objectives', mostly consisting of beating up miscreants. It's a neat way of emulating the open-world console games. There's also fast-travel between areas, a shop accessed by pausing the game in which you can buy new moves for Spidey and even hidden collectibles worth money peppered through each area. You can tell that the developers tried and that they had a few good ideas in mind, and executed relatively well, if only...

 ...if only they didn't have to go for such a stupid control scheme. You use the control pad to move around, up jumps and diagonals make Spidey start swinging. You can gain altitude by holding the diagonal or maintain your current height by holding either left or right. If you are left handed, the XYAB buttons work exactly like the control pad. The swinging idea is good, on paper, but jumps wound up feeling very floaty and imprecise. It was hard to get my jumps just quite like I wanted them to. There's a few other awkward implementations, like when crawling through a duct, you can't just double tap down or up to change the surface on which Spidey is sticking to, and it's easy to get locked into wall-jumping since they tried to simplify control so much so as to work with only the directional pad.
 Swiping down on the touch pad makes Spidey dodge, swiping makes him attack and double tapping makes him shoot web. It works terribly. The game will often mess up and have you shooting web instead of attacking, or attacking instead of shooting web. Frequently Spider-man will also attack on the opposite direction that you wanted him to. Trying to introduce jumps and jump attacks into your repertoire will make Spider-man fumble his moves even harder. Most of the time I was left feeling frustrated since the touch-screen controls are so unreliable and imprecise. I can appreciate that the developers tried something new, but listen, if you can do something with buttons, and do it better... why go for the least precise, convenient or comfortable choice? Your hand may get cramps at times because of how you've got to hold the console. It's not like a Stylus-only scheme can't work, look at Ninja Gaiden, look at Call of Duty, but even then those games had a few issues that this game has too, only that Spider-man 3's got it worse and in more variety.

 There're a few other mechanics at play here, like the Black Suit. Landing attacks will make your rage build up, once filled Spider-man will wear the Symbiote costume for enhanced strength and a few new animations. Staying out of combat, or taking too much damage, will make the rage lower and eventually lose the suit until you get your rage back up again. Most stages have a 'threat' meter, which translates into you having to do your objectives fast unless you want to retry the entire stage again. Ah, yes, dying means having to do an entire mission again, a few which can be quite lengthy. While I never lost due to time, I did die quite a bunch of times since Spider-man wouldn't attack the way I wanted him to, because the touch-screen controls are so bad. Black Suit Spider-man also tends to slide all over the place, once, after doing a downward kick from the air, he got stuck in a kick frame and slid all over the stage. Pressing buttons did nothing and enemies couldn't hit him out of it, so I died due to the time limit. Fun.
 Mark another one under 'Bad Spider-man handheld games', god knows we've got quite a number under that label. If anything at least this game tried to do something different, and I'm sure their heart was in the right place, but the developers fumbled the execution. The best, and only, praise I can give this game is that I'm sure that it could've been relatively fun had it had button inputs.
 3.0 out of 10

No comments:

Post a Comment